Did you know that sufferers of celiac disease (those who have an autoimmune reaction to gluten) can end up with severe neurological problems?
There are many in-depth articles and discussion on medical websites and journals which discuss the links between neurological symptoms and gluten intolerance. Most people with classic celiac disease believe that it is mainly their small intestine which is affected as the body’s gluten intake is attacked by the body’s autoimmune system.
They know that the disease causes the body to mistakenly identify gluten as a toxic material and then, as a result, it releases antibodies against which erode the lining of the small intestine. As it is mostly classic digestive symptoms that send the gluten intolerant to the doctor, it is easy to forget that the disease can affect other parts of the body as well.
Reaching a diagnosis of celiac often takes years. For those with gluten-related neurological disorders, the diagnostic journey is much more difficult, and without increased public awareness many may never discover the destructive connection gluten has to their health.
Suffers of the disease may sustain neurological damage whose symptoms include difficulty walking, balance and coordination problems, numbness, slurred speech, headaches, seizures and dementia, among others. These neurological symptoms can occur with or without the other symptoms associated with celiac disease. In the case of neurological symptoms, the antibodies attack the brain. In cases of ataxia, which causes mobility problems and unsteadiness, the antibodies seem to be attacking the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that controls coordination and movement.
Current research indicates that the same antibodies that attack the small intestine of a person with celiac disease are also responsible for the neurological damage as well. As common as the phrases gluten-free and celiac disease have become in recent years, very little is mentioned about the neurological damage that gluten can wreak on the human body.